India: Surviving Threat In Telangana – Analysis


By Deepak Kumar Nayak*

On March 3, 2023, two Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) Pamed Dalam (armed squad) members, identified as Sodi Kame and Sodi Bandu, and a sympathiser, Sodi Chanti, were arrested by the Police from the Paidigudem Forest area on the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border in the Bhadradri Kothagudem District. Vineeth G., Superintendent of Police (SP), disclosed that the arrested Maoists had come to the Paidigudem Forest to plant landmines to target the Police. 10 gelatin sticks, four electric detonators, 20 metres of cordex wire, 50 metres of electric wire, a battery and a steel bucket were recovered from them. 

On February 21, 2023, CPI-Maoist Sabari Local Organisation Squad (LOS) ‘commander’, identified as Paddam Kosaiah aka Sandeep, who had a cash reward of INR 400,000 on his head, was arrested by the Police during a combing operation in the Erraboru Forest area under the Cherla Mandal (administrative sub-division) in the Bhadradri Kothagudem District, Telangana. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) training book, 10 gelatin sticks, two detonators, cordex wire, tiffin box, electric wire, batteries, and Maoist literature were recovered from his possession. According to reports, there were 27 cases filed against him in Telangana, seven in Andhra Pradesh, and eight in Chhattisgarh State. These included the killing of 17 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in an ambush under the Chintagufa Police Station limits in Sukma District, Chhattisgarh, in March 2020; and the killing of 24 CRPF personnel at Tekulagudem under Tarrem Police Station limits in Chhattisgarh State in April 2021. 

On February 20, 2023, a CPI-Maoist couple, identified as Madhukar Chinanna Kodape aka Thuge (42), and his wife, Jamani Mangalu Punam akaShamala (35), who were allegedly involved in several violent incidents, both carrying a total reward of INR 1 million, were arrested by the Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) Police from Hyderabad District, Telangana. The Maoist couple, who have been staying in Gachibowli in Hyderabad for the past few years, reportedly left the CPI-Maoist movement in 2006 and had since been evading arrest. The Police found that Madhukar was working as a watchman for a local security company in the city, while Shamala was working in the housekeeping department of a car showroom. The duo had concealed their real identities and attended work regularly. Madhukar worked in various positions in the CPI-Maoist party and allegedly was involved in 25 serious offences registered against him at various Police Stations in Gadchiroli District, while Shamala was involved in nine serious offences, including a murder. The Gadchiroli Police had been on the lookout for them for the last one.

On January 5, 2023, two CPI-Maoist couriers, P. Sammaiah (35), and Satyaveni (33), both hailing from Cherla, were arrested by a joint squad of the Cherla Police and CRPF personnel during a vehicle checking drive on the outskirts of the Cherla Mandal headquarters town in Bhadradri Kothagudem District. A bundle of 200 metres Cordex wire, 10 pressure cookers, some substances used for making explosive materials, and a tractor-trolley were seized from them. The duo had been working as couriers for Bhadradri-Kothagudem division ‘secretary’ Azad, providing essential commodities and explosive materials to the ultras operating in neighbouring Chhattisgarh for the preceding two years. 

Thus, eight Naxalites (Left Wing Extremists) have been arrested in four separate incidents in Telangana in 2023, thus far (data till March 5), according to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). There were 21 incidents of arrest in which 41 Naxalites were arrested in the state in 2022, in addition to 20 such incidents in which 61 Naxalites were arrested in 2021. The total number of such incidents and number of arrests since June 2, 2014, when Telangana was formed, is 184 and 427, respectively.

In the meantime, a CPI-Maoist Dalam member, identified as Madavi Bheema aka Dashru, surrendered before the Superintendent of Police (SP) Sangramsingh, G. Patil, in Mulugu District on January 25, 2023, the only surrender that has taken place in the current year (data till March 5, 2023). At least 24 LWEs surrendered in 10 incidents through 2022, in addition to 138 surrenders in 18 incidents in 2021. A total of 292 Naxaliteshave surrendered since June 2, 2014.

Though no Naxalite has been killed in the current year, at least 37 Naxalites were killed in the state between June 2, 2014 and March 5, 2023, including three in 2022, four in 2021, 10 in 2020, two in 2019, one in 2018, 12 in 2017, two in 2016, two in 2015, and one in 2014. 

Worth noting, no Security Force (SF) fatality has been recorded in this entire period, and SFs have maintained their dominance since the formation of the state.

12 civilians have, however, been killed in 11 incidents of killing by Naxalites since June 2, 2014. Two civilians were killed in each of 2022, 2020, 2018, 2017, 2015, and 2014. No civilian fatality was recorded in 2021, 2019, 2016 and 2023 (till March 5). 

It is useful to recall that the Telangana region of the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh, before the June 2, 2014, bifurcation, was the epicentre of Maoist activities and violence through the 1990s and early 2000s. Between March 6, 2000, when SATP started compiling data on Naxalite violence in India, and June 2, 2014 (the date of formation of Telangana), of an overall 1,581 fatalities, including (513 civilians, 131 SF personnel, 884 Naxalites, and 53 deaths not specified), recorded in the whole of Andhra Pradesh, the nine districts of united Andhra Pradesh – Hyderabad, Mahbubnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, and Warangal – which became part of Telangana region, accounted for 955 fatalities (302 civilians, 48 SF personnel, 577 Naxalites, and 28 ‘not specified’), i.e., around 60.40 per cent of the total fatalities. 

Further, based on assessments of underground and over ground activities of the Naxalites, two districts – Mulugu and Bhadradri Kothagudem – remain in the ‘moderately affected’ category, while four districts – Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Khammam, and Jayashankar Bhupalpally – are marginally affected, according to SATP data for 2022. In 2021, two districts – Bhadradri Kothagudem and Mulugu – remained in the moderately affected category, while six districts – Hyderabad, Jayashankar Bhupalpally, Khammam, Peddapally, Rajanna-Sircilla, and Yadadri Bhongir – were marginally affected. 

Further, according to the last dataset released by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) on June 19, 2021, one district of Telangana, Bhadradri Kothagudem, was included among the 25 ‘Most Affected Districts’ from eight states across India. In addition, six districts of Telangana (Adilabad, Bhadradri Kothagudem, Jayashankar-Bhupalpally, Komaram Bheem Mancherial, and Mulugu) were included in a list of 70 districts in 10 states across the country, covered by the ‘Security Related Expenditure (SRE)’ scheme, which underwrites focused operations against the Naxalites w.e.f. July 1, 2021. 

Evidently, the Maoist threat has not been completely ended, despite very significant gains registered by the SFs. Consequently, in addition to steps taken over the past several years, the state government also initiated a number of new programs in 2022. 

For instance, on December 10, 2022, releasing a poster captioned ‘Action Team Samacharam Maku… Bahumathi Meeku‘ [give us information (about the Maoists action team) and take huge cash as a reward] containing details, including names, photographs, and the rewards in the district, and appealing to people to tip-off the Police about their movements, Bhupalpally, SP, J Surender Reddy, stated,

If anyone provides information about the Maoists, he/she will be given the cash reward. And we will also keep the details of the people who provided information secret.

He added, further, that people could give information by dialing 100 as well as by contacting SP Bhupalpally directly, or one of a number of other officers, each of whose contact numbers were provided in the poster, to give details regarding the Maoists. 

Similarly, on October 12, 2022, Jayashankar Bhupalpally SP, J. Surender Reddy, appealed to the kin of CPI-Maoist underground cadres to see that the latter surrender before the Police and lead a peaceful life. The SP also promised that cases would be dropped against those who joined the mainstream, and they would also be provided with employment. 

Earlier, on September 7, 2022, alleging that the Maoists were luring innocent people to join them, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sudhir Ramnath Kekan urged people to cooperate with the Police, to check the spread of Maoist activities in Mulugu District. ASP Kekan also urged people to provide information about the movement of Maoist leaders and cadre.

Notwithstanding the remaining Maoist challenge, the Telangana Police continues to face deficits in terms of capacities to fight the menace, as well as to perform general duties of policing in the state. According to the latest Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) data, as on January 1, 2021, Telangana had 157.11 Police personnel per 100,000 population, against the sanctioned strength of 219.72, a deficit of 28.49 per cent the sanctioned strength for the States’ Police is 82,613, but 59,073 personnel were in position). The Police/Area Ratio (number of policemen per 100 square kilometers) is just 52.69, as against the national average of 62.96. Both the state and national averages on the Police/Area ratio are below the sanctioned strength, at 73.68 and 80.07, respectively. In addition, the sanctioned strength of the apex Indian Police Service (IPS) officers in the state is 139, but just 106 officers were in position, a deficit of 23.74 per cent, which considerably weakens the executive supervision of the force. 

The SFs have established dominance over the rebels in their erstwhile areas of supremacy in Telangana, yet the dogged efforts of the rebels to continue with their movement cannot be ignored. Critical security gaps in capacities and deployment in the state need urgent attention, to ward off the possibility of a rebel resurgence in the state.

*Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management


SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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